Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making Progress and Some Fun Mail

I am really enjoying sewing the quilt that I am making for my son.  My excitement grows with each block that I complete. He seems very excited about it as well.  Over the weekend, he checked in on me every so often and asked to see the completed blocks.   I think he is very happy that I am sewing for him this time.  I do a lot more sewing for my girls because it is not as easy to find things to make for boys...especially once they are school aged.  I have made him quite a few Oliver and S, PJ pants, and I made him a really cool, Euro sham that I am really proud of...I will save that for another post.  Other than those projects, I really haven't made many things for him, so I think he is very excited about this quilt.

The quilt pattern that I am following is comprised of 42 blocks, however I need to increase the size in order to make it a twin size quilt.  I may add a border or I may add more blocks in order to achieve a larger size.  I haven't decided yet.  I have already completed 20 blocks, so I am almost halfway there. I really like the pattern that I am following.  I am already thinking about other fabric combinations that I could use to make this quilt again. The added bonus is that the pattern is free.

My trips to the mailbox have become increasingly more exciting ever since I discovered Etsy a couple of years back.  This past week I received some more Munki Munki fabrics to add to my ever growing Heather Ross fabric stash.  I am planning on making a "thunderstorm quilt" for both of my kids using primarily Heather Ross/Munki Munki fabrics.  Both of my school aged kids are terrified of thunderstorms, which are very frequent where we live.  During the summer, the kids and my husband and I spend many nights huddled together sleeping on our living room floor.  I thought it might be nice for them to have their own "thunderstorm quilts" that we could keep downstairs, so that we do not have to bring all of their blankets from their beds downstairs.  When I told my kids that I was going to make these quilts for them, my son thought that it would be a good idea for us to have a "thunderstorm kit" complete with stuffed animals, flashlights, and the quilts.   When the quilts are complete, we will put them in the kit and maybe the quilt will help alleviate some of my children's fears about thunderstorms. 
Today was another good mailbox day.  I received my free swatch from Spoonflower.  Wow, that was quick!  I chose a cute little rain themed fabric for the kids "thunderstorm quilt".  These 8x8 swatches are a very cost effective way to build your Spoonflower stash...I will definitely be ordering some more in the near future.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Special Quilt for My Son

The Pottery Barn Kid's quilt that I purchased for my son's "big boy" room needs to be replaced.  Mr. B's nursery was a nautical theme.  When he moved out of the crib into his "big boy bed", I continued the same nautical theme by purchasing him a sailboat quilt and matching bedding from Pottery Barn Kids.  Not only is the quilt showing signs of wear, but I think at the mature age of eight, Mr. B has outgrown his sailboat quilt.

Ever since I began quilting just a couple of months ago, I have found myself searching other quilting blogs and Flickr quilt pools for ideas.  I have been overwhelmed by all of the cool inspiration for quilts that the Internet provides.  I am amazed by all of the wonderful quilts that others have created.  When I decided to make this quilt, choosing one quilting pattern out of the multitude of amazing quilt patterns that I have come across was a difficult decision.  The final decision came down to a simple block pattern versus a more modern, square in square pattern.  I have decided to make the square in square pattern quilt because I think it will add a more modern feel to the very traditional, shirting fabrics that I am using.  I loved the beautiful, square in square quilt that I saw on Fresh Lemon's blog, and I am following the wonderful, free tutorial on her blog to make my quilt. http://www.freshlemonsquilts.com/?p=561

Finding good fabric choices for an eight year old boy has proven to be a challenge.  When I  came across some quilts made from Men's upcycled, dress shirts, I decided that shirting fabrics would be the perfect choice for a quilt for my son.  I wanted to choose fabrics that would not seem too juvenile as he gets older.  Several of the fabrics that I am using are upcycled, oxford shirts from my husband and son's closets.  However, the majority of the fabrics are Pima cotton fabrics that I purchased specifically for this project.  Mr. B helped me choose the fabrics from the store yesterday, and I have to say that I think we made some really good choices. 

I wanted the quilt to be primarily composed of blue fabrics with a few smatterings of reds in some of the smaller squares in the quilt.  I recently purchased a new lamp and curtains from Pottery Barn for him that I like, so it was important to match those existing items.  I am really excited about this quilt.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband is helping me by cutting the pieces as I write this post.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cloth Diapers

In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we are now cloth diapering Baby C.  Cloth diapers are something that I had never considered with my other children.  They both used disposables for their entire diapering days.  I never had any problem with disposables, and we used disposables with Baby C up until about a month ago.  Mr. W has become very environmentally conscious, and mentioned that we might give cloth diapering a try.  I admit that I needed a little convincing.  I will be the first to admit that I had my reservations.  I do not like things that are messy.  Thankfully, I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy to use cloth diapers have been.  I thought that they would require a lot more effort than diapering with disposables, and surprisingly they do not.  I think the biggest obstacle to using cloth diapers is figuring out which diapers work best for your child and what method you would like to use to store and wash your dirty diapers.

Initially, we started using G Diapers.  They caught our eye on the diaper aisle on one of our many trips to Babies R Us.  After researching them on the Internet, they seemed like a pretty cool product.  The Internet is filled with positive reviews of G Diapers.  G Diapers are referred to as a hybrid diaper.  The outer layer is made of cloth and a disposable pad fits into a waterproof sleeve in the diaper.  Ideally, your child's mess will be contained within the disposable pad, and you can simply reinsert a new, disposable pad and reuse the outer cloth layer.  This was rarely the case in our experiences with G Diapers.  We got really excited the few times that we were able to reuse the cloth shell.  Baby C almost always leaked her G Diaper, which meant that we had to change her outfits with almost every diaper change.  One of the things that also bothered me with G Diapers is how awkward they are to put on your child.  The velcro fastens in the back, which is something that I just couldn't get used to.  After suffering for a couple of weeks with our G Diapers,  we quickly reverted back to using disposables.

Despite our negative experiences with G Diapers, we continued to remember all of the negative effects that disposables can have on the environment and we decided to give cloth diapering another try.  On a trip to one of our favorite locally owned, baby stores, we decided to look at their selection of cloth diapers.  We did not realize how many choices there are as far as cloth diapers are concerned.  We were overwhelmed by all of the decisions that we needed to make in order to determine what cloth diapers would work best for Baby C.  Also, the initial investment in cloth diapers is expensive, so we wanted to make the best choice possible for Baby C.  After researching cloth diapers on the Internet and looking at all of the options available at several local stores that specialize in cloth diapering, we decided to purchase 6 Tiny Tush Elite Pocket Diapers with snaps, 3 Imse Vimse AIO (all in one) diapers with velcro, and 2 Thirsties Duo Pocket Diapers.  In addition, I just purchased, but have yet to use: 4 Rumparooz G2 Pocket Diapers with snaps and 3 Bumgenius Organic One -Size AIO Diapers with snaps.

I have read that small babies tend to leak a lot in cloth diapers when they are under 12 pounds.  Baby C is still only 11 pounds at four months, so she still does have leaks sometimes, but for the most part her messes have been contained.  I read that most people prefer snaps because they are more durable, and I would agree.
Based on the diapers that we have tried, I really like the AIO or all-in-one diapers.  They are more expensive than other cloth diaper options, but I think they are well worth the added cost.  They are incredibly easy to use because there are no pockets to stuff and empty when they get dirty. Aside from the velcro, I would say that the Imse Vimse are my favorite.  I really like the Imse Vimse because they never leak.  They have "true" leg gussets that contain the messes really well.  I just read that Imse Vimse are now available with snaps, so I might have to try those out.  What are your favorite cloth diaper brands? 

My least favorite, besides the G Diapers, are the Thirsties Duo Pocket Diapers that we have.  They seem to leak a lot and they do not seem to made of as high quality materials as the other diapers that we have.  Also, the pocket is open at both ends which I think makes the inner pad shift more than the other pocket diapers. 

One of the stores that we purchased diapers from suggested that we wash them in Charlie's Soap, but I do not feel that the Charlie's Soap is cleaning them well enough.  I just purchased some Rockin' Green Classic Rock Detergent after reading a lot of good reviews about it online.  What is your favorite method of cleaning your diapers?  What do you use to clean them? 

At home, we store our dirty diapers in a PUL bag, and we purchased a small, wet bag to store dirty diapers in when we are on the go.  We also use Imse Vimse flushable bioliners in the diapers to help contain the poop.  We like the bioliners, and I would recommend them to others as a less messy alternative to the diaper sprayer. 

 I have been surprised at others reactions to our decision to use cloth diapers.  Many of our friends think we are crazy to bother with them.  We try to tell them that they are very user friendly and that they are a lot different than the cloth diapers that our parents used.  I wish others would give them a try because I think that they would be pleasantly surprised just like we were.  Do any of you use cloth diapers?  I would love for you share your positive and negative experiences with me because it seems that there is still much to learn about cloth diapers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Kids Table

A couple of years ago, we purchased a Farmhouse Table and kids chairs from Pottery Barn Kids for our "eat-in" kitchen.  The kids needed a place for snacks and for doing art projects, and a kids table was the perfect solution.  Plus, the table is a miniature version of our Farmhouse table in the dining room, and I have always been drawn to kids products that are miniature versions of "the real thing". 

The kids love the table.  The table has become the perfect place for art projects, playing games, eating snacks, having breakfast, and doing their homework.  After several years of constant kid use, the table was in sad shape.  We actually thought that we were going to have to replace it.  Several months ago my husband, Mr. W sanded the top down to bare wood and painstakingly undertook the task of restaining the tabletop to match the existing stain color on the rest of the table.  Needless to say, matching the stain proved to be a difficult task.  After about four trips to Lowes, many coats of stain and several layers of polyurethane, the table looks better than it did when we purchased it from the store.  The added layers of polyurethane should allow it to withstand several more years of kid use. 

The table looked so nice, I thought that it would be cute to make some "kid sized" placemats and napkins to decorate the table.  I used some leftover Heather Ross fabric to make the placemat front and some coordinating Amy Butler orange polka dot fabric for the back of the placemat.  I used a turquoise polka dot fabric to create the napkins and dressed them up with a little grosgrain ribbon.  I followed this tutorial on Skip To My Lou to create the napkins, which I found very helpful.  http://www.skiptomylou.org/2009/04/20/make-your-own-cloth-napkins/  Making those mitered corners proved to be more difficult than I had originally thought.  I think they look really cute on the table.  Hopefully, I can make some more sets to decorate for Halloween and Christmas. We shall see:)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I love my Beaba Babycook!

My husband and I have found ourselves trying a lot of different things with Baby C that we did not even consider with our older children.  I am not sure if it is because we are older and more confident in our parenting abilities or if it is because we know that Baby C is more than likely our last child. Our first foray into the unknown began with my decision to breastfeed Baby C.  I decided when I was pregnant with Baby C that I wanted to make every attempt to breastfeed her.  I read several books on breastfeeding, purchased a high quality breast pump, and asked for advice from several of my friends who I know had been able to breastfeed successfully.  I am happy to report that Baby C took to breastfeeding very easily, and it has been a wonderful experience for both Baby C and I.  I only wish that I had tried more fervently to breastfeed my other children.  It is a very special experience, and I am glad that I made the choice to breastfeed her this time around.
A couple of months ago as I was perusing the aisles of Babies R Us, I stumbled upon the myriad of baby food choices now available to parents.  I found myself overwhelmed by all of the new choices of prepared baby food.  Eight years ago when my son was born, there were very few choices available to parents as far a prepared baby food was concerned.  The only choice that existed at the time was Beech Nut or Gerber foods.  Mr. B loved prepared baby food and happily gulped many jars of Gerber baby food.  In fact, my son liked prepared baby food so much that when it was time for him to start eating table food, he refused.  Mr. B did not like anything with texture and he would self-sift the pureed food and spit out any larger bites.  My husband and I used to joke that he might be going to Kindergarten with jars of baby food in his lunch box.  When my second child was born three years later, the world of prepared baby food had remained relatively the same.  Gerber had added a line of organic options and some foods with added DHA, but for the most part the choices were the same.  Miss L has always been very adventurous and seemed eager to eat what we were eating very early on, so once she had tried each of the first foods for a week, we began pureeing what we were eating for her.
When I got home from my trip to the Babies R Us several months ago, I began researching all of the new, organic brands of baby food now available.  I was not happy with the information that I discovered when researching these new choices.  I discovered that many of these new organic brands have been subjected to recalls in the past three years for possible contamination.  Some of the brands have been recalled within the last six months.  I found many recent baby food recalls such as these all over the internet:http://www.kvue.com/community/blogs/smart-money/Organic-baby-food-recall-95854639.html, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33397420/, http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2007/ucm108847.htm, http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Plum_Organics_Recall, http://www.mindfulmum.co.uk/2010/04/baby-food-recall-ellas-kitchen-stage-3-cool-caribbean-chicken/ , http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm197570.htm.  In addition, I found that some of the brands that I had trusted in the past had also been recalled as well.http://www.modernmom.com/hottopic/2010/jun/17/lead-found-in-popular-baby-food-and-juice-products/
As a result of the information that I had acquired, I decided that I wanted to make homemade baby food for Baby C.  That is when I discovered the Beaba Babycook.  My experiences with my Beaba, thus far have been wonderful.  The Beaba makes making homemade baby food very simple.  It steams, purees and reheats baby food all in one machine.  All you have to do is wash, peel and dice the food you want to make and place it in the machine.  The machine turns off when the food is finished steaming, and then all you have to do is puree it to your desired consistency.  The smell of the food while it is cooking is amazing as well.  I have made carrots, bananas, and apples so far.  Baby C seems to enjoy the foods that I have made for her.  I cannot believe that it hadn't occurred to me to make my older children's babyfood.  Bananas are the easiest.  They can be consumed raw, so all you have to do is puree them.  Easy peasy.  The only draw back to the Beaba is the price, but I am glad that I chose to splurge on it.  I know I could have made homemade baby food without my Beaba, but the Beaba makes it so much easier.
Our most recent journey into the unknown has been our choice to start cloth diapering Baby C.  However, I will have to share our experiences with cloth diapers in another post because I hear Baby C crying:)